Odds & Ends: March 6, 2023

Band: Ak’chamel, The Divinatory Monkey and the Sovereign Plumed Serpent | Album: A Mournful Kingdom of Sand | Genre: Psychedelic rock, Progressive folk | Bandcamp

Ak’chamel is back with a slightly altered name since I last covered this band. The music’s a bit different, too, and I like this album more for it. It’s less murky, and the instruments are more able to shine through. There’s still a hazy, incense-filled atmosphere to this record, but it’s easier to discern individual elements. Wiry guitar lines, hypnotic rhythms, and assorted non-European flavors swirl together. Some songs are relaxing, and others have a mood that portends doom.

Score: 77/100

Band: Atsuko Chiba | Album: Water, It Feels Like It’s Growing | Genre: Post-rock, Post-punk | Bandcamp

The latest release from this Quebecois act is a hazy, somewhat droney excursion. The music is often abstract and shifting, but the compositions are strong enough to give the songs identifiable and enjoyable structures. There are still plenty of driving, energetic riffs, but they’re often coupled with ethereal atmospheres to make for a haunting effect. There’s a sense of menace to a number of these songs, and everything gels into a cohesive whole.

Score: 84/100

Band: The Goat Wizard | Album: Mobile Government Sitcom | Genre: Progressive rock | Bandcamp

The music on this album is tight, energetic, and full of technical, mathy riffs. The songs are well-structured and feature some surprising twists. Some indie rock pop sensibilities crop up every now and then, and that is often a nice contrast to this album’s madder sections. Flashes of psychedelia and garage rock are incorporated skillfully, and it makes the whole record a lot of fun.

Score: 79/100

Band: Isobar | Album: Isobar III | Genre: Progressive rock | Bandcamp

Isobar III is a pretty decent instrumental album. I really like the band’s keyboard tones, and there are some fun, inventive melodies woven into this record. It reminds me a lot of Yes, Änglagård, and Camel at different points. However, like many an instrumental release I’ve covered on this site, many of the tracks run for longer than necessary. There are some extraneous solos, and the whole affair could have been tightened up. Overall, though, if you’re looking for enjoyable, classic-sounding prog, this is a good choice, especially if you’re just looking to throw it on in the background.

Score: 68/100

Band: LLC | Album: LLC | Genre: Math rock, Progressive rock | Bandcamp

I like LLC’s mission statement. On their Bandcamp, they ask, “Are you sick of instrumental albums that carry on far longer than they should?” They definitely keep to the ethos of cutting out bloat. Six of the ten songs on LLC clock in at under two minutes, and only two songs crack the three-minute mark. There’s certainly nothing extra here, but it does feel a bit…I don’t want to say rushed, but they could have taken a little more time to let ideas develop and breathe. It’s a quick album full of snappy math rock, and it’s got a pretty fun, lighthearted atmosphere about it.

Score: 73/100

Artist: Cos Sylvan | Album: Rayless | Genre: Progressive rock | Bandcamp

This three-song EP has a lot to offer. The opening “Woodcutters” is the obvious highlight. A seven-and-a-half minute suite, it’s replete with dreamy vocal melodies, driving momentum, artful instrumentalism, and surprising structural choices. “Negative Witness” has some interesting grunge flavors, and “Night Sculptor” has some real weight to it. This is a strong release, and I’d love to hear a full-length LP eventually.

Score: 83/100

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